N: 43°19′17″ W: 1°59′8″
San Sebastian is a perfect mix of a European city break and a relaxing surf adventure. It is deservedly famous for its near perfect surf conditions throughout the summer season. However, it is also has a strong undercurrent of student nightlife that brings a great buzz to the city. San Sebastian offers a perfect blend of history and culture while introducing you to students & surfers from every nook and cranny of the globe.
Surfing & Culture in San Sebastian
Surfing has been the cornerstone around which San Sebastian formed its bohemian culture. Thousands of pros and amateurs flock to the shores to dip there toes in the warm Mediterranean waters of the Bay of Bisque or to eat the delicacies of Basque country. The waves in San Sebastian can be defined with one word… Consistent. Left hand and right hand breaks can be found in abundance and the break is not too far off shore. This makes it perfect for beginner surfers looking to find the perfect balance. Due to the perfect conditions and idyllic vistas, major surf competitions are often hosted in the summer months. So if your lucky you may catch a glimpse of Filipe Toledo ripping some aerials while you snack on some warm tapas and cold beers.
Surfing in The Bay of San Sebastian – Playa Zurriola
This is the second most famous beach in San Sebastian and is potentially the more favoured amongst surfers. It is a 5 minute walk from the city centre and is located in the ‘Barrio Gros’ district. A large array of water sports and surf schools can be found along this beach. At any given moment over 100 surfers can be found in the line up, waiting to grab the perfect waves that San Sebastian has to offer. This may offer some annoyance to those of you who are experts, but for begginers it makes it a far less intimidating atmosphere to learn. In the winter the waves get really big. Its awesome to see the pro’s brave these waves.
Playa de Ondaretta
This beach is located on the West side of the city. This is my personal favourite as it is a little bit quieter than the infamous La Zurriola. The waves are more manageable and the water is generally calmer which makes it a lot easeier to learn the basics and fall in love with the feeling of riding a wave. Pro tip: It is only possible to surf on this beach during high tide, so keep an eye on the tide schedual during your visit or check out the swell reports. Thomas of Surfawhile says that: “This beach borders the promenade that runs along the Igueldo Mountains. The sea wall along the promenade ensues that there is a nice wave in the right conditions at all times”.
Located 20 minutes away from an Sebastian this town lives, breathes, eats and sleeps surfing. It is the longest beach that can be found within the Basque region and therefore surfing has been present in the region since the dawn of surfing time. During the summer there is a continues perfect wave that rolls gently to shore. I recommend this site for the more experience surfer because the length of the beach means that lifeguard supervision is stretched over a larger space. However, the town itself is certainly worth a visit even if surfing isn’t on your itinerary. If in a campervan, this could be the perfect spot to park up and cook breakfast with the family.
the long stretched beach of Zarautz
Surf Facilities of San Sebastian
If surfing is not your chosen method of relaxation then there is plenty of ways to take in the surf culture that flows through the streets of San Sebastian. Rip Curl, Quicksilver and Billabong all have flagship stores in the region. However, there is a plethora of independent surf shops around the city centre that should defiantly be prioritised. Surf shacks, beach bars and restaurants can all be found overlooking La Zurriola beach. They are the perfect spot to rest up and photograph the surfers whilst sipping on an ice cold Morreti. San Sebastian is also the location of the first ever surf film festival, Surfilmfestibal.
SurfaWhile in San Sebastian
San Sebastian is an amazing city to visit, enjoy and surf. SurfaWhile collaborates with a local language school, encouraging people to learn Spanish while staying in San Sebastian. Their programs are often combined with surf classes, where you follow Spanish lectures during the morning, and surf the famous Zurriola Beach throughout the afternoon. So, in case you would fancy learning Spanish and Surf in San Sebastian, it’s well worth it.
If you would like to just stay in San Sebastian and only do surf, you might opt for a surf accommodation. There are some nice surf hostels in San Sebastian, which are certainly worth checking out.